Inside the Empire: Tattooing at Conventions

Inside the Empire: Tattooing at Conventions


“Oh, all tattoos are so much fun to do. It’s hard to pick a favorite.”

– Mike Bianco; Ink Fusion Empire, Atlantic City Boardwalk Con (ACBC) 2015

Some people go to comic conventions for the special guests. Traditionalists go for the comics. Some people, though, whether you expect it or not, go for the tattoos.

Optimized-tattoo_02The Ink Fusion Empire, headed by Mark Draven, is a group of traveling tattoo artists who attend up to 12 shows every year, with the intention of meeting attendees who have such a passion for their fandom that they want it permanently etched on their skin.

“I wouldn’t say I have a specific character that’s a favorite, but I am a bit of a Star Wars nerd,” said artist Mike Bianco, “so any time I get to do anything Star Wars related, I’m pretty happy. I like so many other things, though, too.”

The Ink Fusion Empire has been so well-received since its inception nearly a decade ago, that it has since received the official tattoo license from LucasFilm, and all artists were completely booked at this past year’s Star Wars Celebration more than two months in advance of the event.

Bringing the professional art of tattooing to conventions and expositions has given huge exposure to the Ink Fusion Empire, while also providing self-proclaimed geeks and nerds a safe and sterile haven to be inked, and allowing it to live up to its tagline as the place “where the worlds of tattooing and pop culture collide.”


Bianco shows off two of his several tattoos: Tributes to the innovators of Marvel and Star Wars, respectively, Stan Lee and George Lucas.